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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

It’s All in the Genes

Published March 26, 2009 4:01 PM by Frank Visco
Researchers at Wake Forest University have suggested genetics may explain why only 25% of long-term smokers develop chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases even though 90 percent of COPD is attributed to smoking.

The study considered variations in the gene ADAM33 in 880 Caucasian smokers over 50 who had smoked 20 pack years, and split them up into those with COPD and those without it. Researchers found as many as five variants that were significantly associated with COPD, but only two of those remained after corrections for multiple tests.

This news leaves me pondering genetics in general, and how chromosomes can affect so much. It certainly makes me wonder how many people are walking around with perfect-type genetic strands that are genetically predisposed to stave off diseases, and if breeding is strengthening or weakening (or both) such strands.

Coming back to the topic, it certainly is interesting to ponder where genetics will be 10, 20, 50 years down the line. Just imagine being able to do a full genetic markup on someone and how that could potentially improve patient treatment. Would genetically predisposed addicts work harder to quit if they knew they was genetically likely to develop COPD? Would we be able to alter genetic deficiencies to overcome problems like sleep apnea and asthma?

What do you think? Where are genetic studies ultimately heading in the field of respiratory care?

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